As far as Retail Simulators go, Cart Life is a fascinating game to play. In this monochrome indie game you play as one of three characters, managing and running a simple stall selling a variety of items ranging from newspapers to bagels. Each character has specific strengths and weaknesses which you must accommodate for in order to try and make enough money to survive. Indeed that is the only objective; survive. Make money, spend money and try and have enough at the end of the day to continue making money tomorrow.
The gameplay is fairly difficult as you try and manage your simple store and prioritise the different requirements each character has. For instance when I first began playing the game I had to scrape together what little money I could in order to feed both my character and his nicotine addiction. My character was unable to barter when he was seriously hungry but his capacity to barter successfully was greatly affected when he was unable to get a hold of any fags. These kinds of decisions are at the very heart of the game and they help to make it both extremely enjoyable and challenging.
The general appearance of the game is great; many indie games go for a retro-grade style but very few are able to pull it off successfully. Cart Life has no problem doing this. The monochrome graphics really help to add to the atmosphere of the game without being obnoxious. The music in the game is superb and like the graphics it helps to greatly enhance the atmosphere of the game. The only issue I have with the sound is the noise that the different people in the game make when speaking. Although it is obviously intended to go with the overall retro-grade appearance of the game, all it does is give me a headache and leave me wanting to mute the sound completely. This is a shame because the soundtrack is amazing and you could easily listen to it for hours.
The game is also fairly linear; once you have played through each character there isn’t much incentive to play them again. The progression is fairly straight and once you have completed a character there is not much you can go back and try differently. There are semi-random ‘encounters’ which can either help or hinder you but this doesn’t do much to change how you progress in the long run. I also think there should be an option to put the game in a window. These sorts of games are excellent for playing in windowed mode as they are by no means resource intensive and they can easily be run in the background; perfect for when you are supposed to be revising. This game doesn’t have such an option however and I really think that this addition would have made me want to play the game even more, especially when I should be doing other things.
Overall I would definitely recommend this game. It’s available on Steam, and with the summer sales coming up, keep an eye out for those price drops. Cart Life is a solid game and definitely worth a try.